Tag Archives: Valentine’s Day

Alone on Valentine’s Day

14 Feb
Source: Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America on Flickr Commons

Source: Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America on Flickr Commons

The post has been and gone. My message box is empty. The telephone remains silent. What else could it be but another typical Valentine’s Day, a manufactured marketing ploy by cake, card and confectionary companies to maximise profits. A day in which it seems that the entire world scrambles to find some smattering of affection and goes overboard with public displays of affection to prove just how ‘special’ their relationships are. And yet, in spite of my deep-rooted cynicism of the whole tawdry thing, I can’t help but take my outsider stance as proof of my own failure.

With the exception of a few years in the mid 2000s, my Valentine’s Days have been pretty miserable. I’m either a definite singleton, or I’ve been in an unhappy place with the person I’ve been seeing, and the whole thing becomes an overpowering chore. In the past I’ve sent cards to women that I’ve been harbouring crushes on, but the overwhelming silence and/or rejection that follows means I am no longer likely to do this. Its kind of creepy anyway, especially if one does it anonymously, and in our days of psycho stalkers one has to be mindful of respectful distances.

This year has been harder. I’ve been dreading it for months, and that hasn’t subsided. Mostly because I found myself falling for someone last year, and those feelings have refused to shift in spite of all attempts to do so. Unrequited love is a painful pleasure – the euphoria of intensity of feeling is at loggerheads with the excruciating agony of rejection and rebuttal. Its not as if I’ve had my affections spurned before, I have, but the way this has been handled and where it has ended up doesn’t make sense. It’s perfectly possible to remain friends with someone you’ve declared an unreciprocated interest in, or had a relationship with. And it isn’t like I haven’t made inroads into moving on from that relationship either, but you can’t help how you feel, and I’ve no desire to bury those feelings because they’ll just sit there stewing and eventually will erode anything else that comes along. Better to be honest, to embrace them, to see what happens.

I suppose I must have had a tiny hope that perhaps things would change. That this wonderful woman that I still have a bubbling chemistry with, might have taken a (second) chance on us, but instead its gone the other way and I’m deeply saddened by the extreme measures taken. Not because we don’t get on, not because we don’t like each other, not because we couldn’t actually be friends, but it strikes me because of all of those things. The positive attributes are exactly the reason why she isn’t talking to me. And that’s especially awkward because our circles are closing in on each other and eventually paths will cross in the flesh again. As long as she’s happy and doing what she wants, that’s all that really matters. My personal happiness isn’t dependant on her, but she definitely brought a great deal of happiness to my life. I just wish she was part of the 2017 me, a much improved take on the person she knew. Though every bit as sincere.

Damn regrets. I tried so hard to keep a safe distance only to find myself slipping deeper and deeper into a vat of affection until I was washed with love. I always seem to fall for the wrong person. People who live impractical distances away, or have unworkable schedules. Social and economic backgrounds and thinking that struggle to accept mine. People who are also damaged, kindred spirits, who are hell-bent on rejecting something with potential because it scares them – only to seek out the same sort of damaging relationships that have ruined their lives and selves in the past. I’m trying not to be that person anymore myself, trying not to repeat my mistakes.

So today I allow my mind to wander for a period through bittersweet sadness, heightened by an unnecessary silence. I distract myself with music and writing and memory. I’ve no friendly benefits to claim, no cuddle buddy to snuggle up to, no human touch. I don’t really know any better. So you can take your Valentine’s demonstrations and keep them to yourself. Unless that is, you want to share them with me…


My Valentine (imagined)

13 Feb

City Lights (1931)

Dear woman in my dreams – the one who caught my eye and my heart, and who has bewitched me. Would that circumstances allow. But they don’t. And so I must conclude that you don’t exist. At least I assume you don’t. I don’t appear to exist within your world, so logically you must be a figment of my imagination. Shared exchanges, looks and words, are all simply the product of my over-active mind, along with the still-ringing emotions, heartbreak, and confusion.

I don’t believe in using this one day of the year to focus all one’s amorous energy, it should exist on a daily basis. But there’s something about this whole farcical ritual that demands we give it attention, acknowledge feelings and sentiment that is in danger of going unremarked. Sitting here, my thoughts return again to you, as they do so often, dear Figment. An admiration from increased and needless distance, an honest heartfelt affection, an affinity denied. A love that has been battered and neglected but has not died. I cannot let the day pass by without giving voice to this pained desire

I don’t make wild promises of everlasting devotion, or make grandiose gestures I cannot possibly meet – manipulations of expectations that doom us to failure. I seek not to control or bind the recipient of my affection. I will never ask you to do something you don’t want to do. I can only tell you that I care for you more than I have any right to, I love you beyond the point it hurts, that each day without you diminishes me. It’s a mistake letting you know I care at all, that I’m still here. But if we’re honest, you’ve always known that. You’ve always known my sincerity, however much you deny it. There is no hidden agenda, no falsity, no leading you on.  At some point today you’ll think of me too, and you’ll wonder.

The problem with being the recipient of a valentine, particularly when there’s an anonymity involved, is that one never quite knows how to respond. What if you’re wrong about the identity, and you say the wrong thing to the wrong person? What if you missed a clue, messed up? What if they’re exactly the person they claim to be, and all your fears are unfounded? What if being sensible means that you miss out on something special for the sake of something safe?

I could pretend I felt some other way, but what good would that do? I could lie to myself and to you, tell you that I feel nothing, but eventually that will come back to haunt us both. I have nothing to be afraid of, I have already laid myself bare before you, so humiliate away with your silent rejection of the whole of me. Deny the truth that we both know exists – my futile affection isn’t without foundation…

But dear Valentine, you exist only in my mind, so there is no point in me singing your praises, declaring adoration, or vowing passion, platitudes and pleasure. It is redundant for me to appeal to your emotions, and call upon you to open your shuttered heart. The clock ticks ever closer to the day when it will all be too late, when I am finally lost completely. Until then you live on in my dreams – beautiful, wonderful, unreachable – and I remain (unreciprocatedly) yours.

Valentine Woe

8 Feb

bright flamy symbol on the black background

Oh no. It’s February. Again. And the shops are filled with red tat. Cards. Teddy bears. Flowers. Meaningless declarations of love. How do I really feel? Fuck off Valentine’s Day.

Regular readers will know how much I loathe Love Day. Why put the effort into one day when you should be doing that for the other 364 days of the year? Why drag your partner to a restaurant to pay twice the price of any other day, in a goldfish bowl crammed with other couples.

I’m doing my best to stay out of the road of all things commercially sentimental, but its difficult when Tesco has given over as much floor space to this bullshit as it does to Christmas week. Shelves loaded with tackily tagged chocolates and cards and mugs and mops and wine and food and “buy this thing for a fiver that normally costs a quid cus its red and its Valentines’ week”.

I strongly advise against getting involved with anyone new between mid-November and mid-February. Winter is such a time of flux and if you don’t spend every penny you have on your new object d’amour then you could well find yourself on the scrap heap before your time. Buying stuff is not the way to find real affection and certainly not a real relationship. And if you’re doing it for the sex then you may as well look at it as prostitution, and I suspect a prostitute would be cheaper – certainly less emotionally testing.

I recall being in a dead relationship and still being compelled to write meaningless platitudes in a card because life would be a hundred times harder if I didn’t. Why put ourselves through such nonsense?

Thrusting ourselves into something new during the height of winter rather forces our hands. Rather than letting a relationship play out properly – some delicate dating, furtive fumbling, patient probing – we’re already thinking ‘Must buy expensive gifts’, making grand gestures, and before we’ve really decided if this is a medium-to-long-term thing or one of those couple-of-nights only affairs (a guest appearance rather than a residency). In that magnified microcosm how can we trust what’s going on? Simply we can’t.

Valentine’s Day falls on a Sunday this year which also means for many the most sinister of stalker traditions – the sending of the anonymous card loaded with clues to the object of one’s affection – becomes more difficult. We cannot depend on the world’s postal services to deliver on the day itself. Singletons like myself can now find comfort when the doormat once again screams with the absence of red envelopes. Of course if one does show up on the day it means somebody has dug out your address and stealthily made their way to your front door and squeezed the card through the last defence that is the impossible letterbox. I for one would much rather any potential love interest declared themselves in person at an appropriate time to my face, or take the safe option of writing via private message so embarrassment can be averted if there’s no mutual attraction.

When you think about it, Valentine’s Day simply serves to tell people that if you pursue someone armed with words and gifts and an expensive dinner then you’ll find love, or at least get laid. There’s no long-term strategy needed, no real care, and no respect of boundaries. One can overlook it a little in the instance of a long-term relationship – you’ve already captured your prey – but Valentine’s isn’t really for the stable, those who are as likely to do something nice in the privacy of their own home, it’s for those who are insecure, who need reminded to put effort in just to talk to their partner.

If nothing else, one has to be dubious about a day that takes as its mascot, Cupid: a rather rotund winged young boy dressed with only a smile and a bow and arrow. In other words, the worst sort of jailbait.

Valentine Cynicism

14 Feb
Nothing says 'I Love You' like a pack of scouring pads.

Nothing says ‘I Love You’ like a pack of scouring pads.

Oh no, its here again. That dreadful demarcation of the calendar into one 24 hour period during which we must gush our gratitude for some sprinkling of affection from some other soul. And whilst I am sure it is wonderful for all the superficial seducers out there, for us singletons it more often than not leads to a sorrowful whine.

From no age we are taught that we need to find a mate – it is a life essential that we shower someone of the opposite sex with affection (homosexuality wansn’t an option when I was at primary school, maybe that’s changed now?). We make hearts out of red card, and write messages in thick crayon to our favoured female relatives, or if we’re feeling bold, the object d’amour within our pre-teen classes.

I recall a French lesson at secondary school where I had to describe my ‘ideal woman’ using my limited vocab Français. A genuine belief that I wasn’t interested solely in a particular check list of physical attributes, like some demented Dr Frankenstein, wasn’t good enough for Mademoiselle. Hetero-norms were bunged into my brain from the word go. And yet nothing could be done for my naturally shy and awkward demeanor.

Valentine’s Day not only encourages us to make rash decisions in search of some tokenistic love, but it encourages us to spend with reckless abandon, and to develop our stalking skills. The first lesson in any good stalker’s life will be the discovery of the intended Valentine’s home address, and the subsequent anonymous sending of a salacious card in which one states one’s dishonorable intentions.

On arrival of the card, the recipient then enters a guessing game in which it is not always clear who the sender was. This can of course lead to awkward situations when the emissary is the slightly spotty and socially inept classmate that you’ve been avoiding for the last six months because they have ‘serial killer’ written all over their face. It is one thing to be admired, but to be admired by someone you loathe, well…

I haven’t sent an anonymous card since I was a teenager. Since then, come this time of year, I’ve normally been in relationships, rather than seeking to start one afresh (why one would ever do this close to Valentine’s day is anyone’s guess). Anonymity has never done me any good. Nor has confessing I might have feelings for someone. The last time I let on I might be feeling a little longing for a lady, I had a pleasant but firm rebuttal. As I simply cannot read the signs properly, its safer for me to carry on solo than to be beaten back by a disinterested damme. There is no way I would embark on such a foolish errand on Valentine’s Day.

My faith in Hallmark romance is long since subsided. A few considered words on the inside of a pre-printed piece of stiff paper, coupled with a box of Milk Tray and an uninspired red rose, simply doesn’t go any way to guaranteeing a positive result. Chances are, unless one has already explored the hypothetical possibilities of a relationship, or are indeed already engaged in a relationship, with the object of one’s Valentine greetings, the offering will go to waste.  And as a consequence, crushing disappointment will ensue, and despair emerge victorious.

I believe in love, and demonstrations of affection. Something about the ‘grand gesture’ that is inherent in our understanding of Valentine appeals to me too. But, I’m a realist. Valentine is a one-sided day as far as I can see, with men being the ones making the gestures. Certainly I have no expectations of an admirer to emerge from the shadows for my benefit. And so, disgruntled, I say ‘Stop it’. If your relationship depends on this one day to thrive, then there is something wrong with it. Be happy with your spouses, partners and squeezes, but spare a thought for we uncoupled ones, because nobody else does.



The Great Valentine’s Day Con

14 Feb

“Darling, I love you so much I’m going to bust my overdraft in order to shower you with cards, overpriced flowers, and a frightfully uncomfortable meal in a restaurant neither of us like, because it is love day.”

Or at least, that’s what many couples may as well say on this most insipid of Hallmark holidays.

I have never been a fan of St Valentine’s Day and its grotesque, gratuitous displays of false adoration. Probably because as a clumsy child in an all-boys school, the chances of a love declaration were few and far between. That isn’t to say that I didn’t try of course. I have on multiple occasions bitten the bullet and penned some inappropriate comments inside a card, tucked into a rich red envelope and forwarded it to the unwitting recipient of my attention. One early crush was sent a painstakingly hand-made card, adorned with a drawn cupid on the front and the lyrics of a rather bawdy song I failed to comprehend properly on the interior. Poetry is love, right?

To this day I remain baffled by the one Valentine card I remember receiving as an awkward adolescent. I still have it in a box along with other bits and pieces from my teenage years. There was an oblique clue written underneath the stamp on the envelope, with the letters T and S. Being the silly sausage I am, I never did have the courage to find out who did send it (the embarrassment if I had guessed wrongly!), and considering how few females I actually knew then, the idea that I might have a secret admirer tickled me no end. Perhaps one day paths will cross and the secret will be let out of the bag.

While as an adult I have given and received cards and gifts, it is the obligation to participate which upsets me most. If one does indeed love, then that love should be manifest every day of the year and not just on the one day when garages sell red roses in bin liners.

Most of all I feel sorry for couples who are dating. A bit like Christmas, if it is early days in the relationship, the pressure to push the boat out and impress one’s potential partner may well be overwhelming – building up false expectations of times to follow. And for those who are in difficulties or reaching the end of their relationships, the compulsion to celebrate Valentines in spite of any personal angst, ends up upsetting and prompting partners to labour under the misapprehension that their crumbling partnership is alive and kicking.

Image source: National Library of Norway on Flickr.

Image source: National Library of Norway on Flickr.

Valentines celebrations are overflowing with trite cliché. Red roses, chocolates, candlelit dinners for two… On that last note, I don’t think there’s anything remotely romantic about dragging your sorry ass down to the local bistro or Michelin restaurant for a specially laid on meal, labelled ‘Valentines’ and ‘Exclusive’ by the greedy restaurateur who has for one night only, doubled both the capacity and cost of the venue. Sitting uncomfortably in stiff wooden seating, gazing across a flute of sparkling wine because you can’t afford the champagne, as your elbows knock into the much prettier couple at the next table.

As you sit there in silence, you witness the implosion nearby of another couple who had fallen prey to the Valentine’s pressure but cannot keep a lid on their increasing discomfort in each other’s company. As they get drunker and louder, you find your own meal spoilt, and before you know it the waiter is kicking you out because they need the table for another booking and you’ve reluctantly abandoned your cheese board.

If you are lucky enough to have a house with a big bed to go back to, chances are you’re both too pissed or too full to actually give each other the Valentine’s fuck you’d been looking forward to since New Year’s. And half-awake, conversations based on ‘aren’t you glad we aren’t like them’ soon leave you spent wondering about the possibilities you have shut off in this single world…

Or at least, that’s how I suspect things will go.

Today is Valentine’s Day and I am (un) surprisingly dateless. Which just makes me hate it all the more.